Shutterrific Photography

by Bill Singleton

Autumn in Zion National Park

Usually by mid October when the fall color here in northern Utah subsides, the color down south is just getting started.  Color ran later than usual throughout Utah and I monitored public webcams near the park to base my departure.  In years past, this being my fifth straight year, I would complete this trip by the first week of November.    Kevin Mikkelsen, Gary Andrus, and myself arrived in Zion on Wednesday November 9th.  The five hour drive to Springdale, Utah was over in a flash thanks to Gary bringing the audio book Unbreakable by Laura Hillenbrand.  When we arrived, the cottonwoods were still in the process of change and maples had a varied degree of color with some trees at peak and others well past.   The color along the Virgin River that was flowing much faster and higher than usual for this time of year, was some of the best I had seen.  We worked what light was left following the drive there along the Virgin River. 

On day two, we caught sunrise from a high vantage point on the eastern side of the park.  I will never tire of the view of first light across West and East Temples and the many features in between. After sunrise, we headed into town to visit Zion Adventure Company for some wetsuit rentals.  Our plan was to hike The Narrows as far as we could but allow some time for a sunset shot at the bridge of The Watchman.  The diverse trek through Zion’s premier canyon is one of the most touted and breathtaking adventures in America. Extraordinary beauty and unique character describe this amazing gorge.  The photos will hardly do it justice.   Though we made it out in time for sunset, we were denied any dramatic light or clouds and opted to pass.

Then there was 11/11/2011.  What a perfect date to partake in a hike to The Subway.  I am always a tad apprehensive of this hike.  My first hike in, back in 2006, was one of the hardest hikes I have ever done.  It left me delirious and sore for days after.  I credit this hike for putting me on a path for healthier living.  Having been in the gym now  every other day for the past two years, I fret a lot less.  It helps knowing what to bring to sustain yourself for the physical journey.   Joining the three of us on this day was John Blumenkamp.  We had gotten permits the day before and set out well before dawn with headlamps lighting the trail.  I found the first half of the journey much easier than I had remembered as the trail was well defined.  Surely a product of word spreading about the beauty offered along this route.  Not long past the half way point, several slabs of light gray mudstone are covered with dinosaur tracks. The stone is a fossilized lakebed from the Kayenta Formation, containing tracks laid down in the early Jurassic Period. The tracks belong to a bipedal carnivore known as the Grallator.  This was the first time I had seen these, so I photographed them.  Not long past these tracks there had been a HUGE landslide that had filled a large portion of the canyon with boulders, trees, and dirt reminding us of tougher hikes.  The reward for continuing was some of the best color along Arch Angel Cascades that we had seen.  Either we catch it early and green, or late with leaves already down.  Not this time.  The trees on both side were laden with yellow complimenting the rich red rock and cascading falls.

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